My relationship with the studio…

Generally, I love my studio.  It’s the best place in the world.  It’s cool in the sweltering heat, and contains everything I need to work.  I can make a mess down here, and no one minds.  It has good light, is comfortable, and has lots of storage. I can work at my desk, the sewing station, or the long counter, and if I want to do some computer work, read, or sketch, I can sit on the loveseat in front of my main desk.  It is a happy place.

As a professional artist,  I make deals with myself for studio time. I must be down there on work days. I am allowed upstairs to make lunch, and unless I am actually working on the computer, it is not downstairs with me, as it can be too distracting.  On studio days, which I try to schedule ahead of time, I try my hardest to let nothing interrupt.  No going for coffee with a friend in the middle of the day.  No supply runs during studio time. I find that these “flexibilities” are often just excuses when I feel stuck on something, or just plain don’t want to be there.  It happens.  Sticking with my 9:00-5:00 schedule helps me to take myself seriously.  I don’t always need to be doing serious work during this time, but I do need to be down there, not on the computer, and not reading books for pleasure (unless they’re directly related to research).  If nothing is coming, I doodle.  Or stare at the wall.  Or clean up.  Pull stuff out and look at it. Sketch.  Flip through older sketchbooks. Usually just spending some time in the space helps me to loosen up and let things percolate.  I have lots of things in various stages, or that I’m not sure if I’ve finished yet- they need time to sit with me for a while before I know what they need.  Just having things in my line of sight helps them stay in the forefront of my mind.

Sometimes it flows, and sometimes it’s the last place I want to be, if I’m feeling tired, or stuck on something. Sometimes I feel like I’m clawing at the walls, trying to get out. Even on these days, I have to be there until the end of the day.  If this means I need to pull out something completely different than what I’ve been doing, then so be it (like the paintings above). While I know that the common concept of an artist is that they must be “inspired” to work, I often find my best stuff comes out if I push it a little.  The pushing helps me to make work that I maybe wouldn’t have made if I hadn’t kept my rule, such as these drawings of Morphoid skin cells.  It also helps me to finish up things that maybe I haven’t finished yet, or that should be tweaked or altered.

I work in my sketchbook in this time, and on the train, and I make a lot of lists- things to do, supplies I need, etc.  I also use the time to work on writing proposals if I feel stuck, or behind on that.  That often reminds me about ideas I’ve had and gets me excited about things again, kickstarting the process.

They say that it takes 10,000 hours to be a master at something. And I believe that to be an artist, you have to make things.  Not just once, but every day, or almost every day.  It has to be always in your mind.  It’s so easy to slip out of the habit, and once you do, it’s much harder to get back into it.  The easiest way for me to keep things moving along is to simply put in the time, whether I feel like it or not.

Sometimes it’s an incredibly tough battle.

Studio Shots: “Painting”

I’ve been building things.  Square things, brown things.  Here’s a few studio shots.

The “thing” I built is drying under the stack of sketchbooks….

And here’s one painted, and one primed/ resanded.

I’m always amazed at how much my studio looks like chaos in photos like this.  It is busy, but everything has it’s place.

Crossing the River

So, lately.

Lately, things have been pretty busy! We just had the AGM at work, and so I’ve been busier than normal. Now that that has calmed down a little, I feel like I can get back to work on my practice as well.

Right now, it seems I am in a research stage… researching, brainstorming, reading, trying out ideas and making samples/ templates. The playing phase. I always enjoy this phase, but it sometimes feels like I’m spinning my wheels a little… no, more like driving around the parking lot, just for the sake of driving. Not having a specific destination. I have no real goal at the moment, just a bunch of ideas floating around in my head. I would like to do most of these, but as of right now, I have no idea how to get from here to there. It’s like trying to cross a large river and you don’t have a boat. Do you build one? Do you look for a fallen log? Build a bridge? Do you invent a flying machine, or a rope system? Talk to the locals/ people who’ve been here before? (Trouble is, being an artist, no one you know has been exactly where you are, with the same exact issues, although there is always someone, it seems, who can help give some direction.) It seems to me, that my method so far is to walk up and down the shore, evaluating my options. Anyway, enough of the metaphor.

Because of work, and this particular phase I’m in, I’m finding it hard to keep up on my applications. I’m also unsure right now of how the work I’m wanting to do will actually pan out, and so that’s a bit of a problem when writing applications for shows, etc. It’s frustrating to me, because usually, I have a pretty clear path of what I want to do and how I plan to get there, but this one is a lot less clear.

I think all I really need here is time. Time to let it percolate, develop, time to research and learn, and figure out the details. Stay tuned.  (And take a look at all the fantastic “research” I’ve been posting!)

A Peek into the Creative Process…/ Balance

I thought I’d post this…. a peek into my creative process.  This is a recent page in my sketchbook where I’m playing with some ideas to build some “didactic panels,” including using a couple of version of an electronic set up to create a informational recordings and some specimen display cases.  Maybe I can build a couple of these when things settle down a little for me.

Things have definitely been busy.  I just finished the EMMEDIA film project, Morphopodia, and *BOOM* I’m off on this Gushul Residency. Right after I get back from here, I’ll be participating in Spark, a collaborative performance, which will culminate in two performances in October, the 18th and 19th, which is my birthday.  One thing after another.  After Spark, I have a residency in the St[art] space in Art Central for November and December.  My original plan was to do some animation there, but that might change.  It’s even hard to predict now, when it’s only a month and a half away.  And I’m also working on stuff for the New Alberta Contemporaries Exhibition, happening in January.  And wanting to apply for grad school this year. And keeping up with the IMR blog, and this blog here, and keeping an eye on calls for submissions and what’s going on in Calgary, and other places.  Things are definitely busy… sometimes almost overwhelmingly busy.  And I’ve been lucky.  To be accepted to do all these things, and to be able to do them.  To have these opportunities and projects to persue.  It sure doesn’t get boring.

I think my challenge for the next year is to find a balance.  A balance of working, both my arts practice and a job.  A balance of activities, types of activities.  A balance between too much work time and too much leisure time.  I’ll figure it out.  Things at least seem less dire than I thought they would be after graduation….. I had only a brief encounter with my “summer problem,” and since then, have managed to keep a handle on it by being busy.  Now, I just need to find the balance that will work for me.